Sometimes entrepreneurs show up in the most unexpected places.
On a recent visit to a refugee camp in South Sudan, Resident Entrepreneur at the United Nations Elizabeth Gore found an environment flourishing with micro enterprises and small businesses. Most of them led by women.
“You wouldn’t think there’s innovation, but yet there’s small business happening; there’s trading happening,” she says. “Business and entrepreneurism is punching through, even in the most unlikely places like a refugee camp.”
The key to their success? Mobile phones, and an increased access to technology.
Ingrid Vanderveldt, the entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell, feels that as more women in the world gain access to mobile phones, it will revolutionize traditional business roles and break down stifling bureaucracy.
“When you add in the technology element, it just enables them to have access to the world, to make that change,” she says.
As entrepreneurs themselves, Gore and Vanderveldt feel the same shift is taking place on a much larger scale at home. Big businesses are responding to the influx of women entrepreneurs by viewing them as critical team members.
“They’re fundamentally seeing that entrepreneurs, women especially, are really the key to our global and sustainable future,” Vanderveldt says.
“We’re making this happen,” Gore adds, “You see businesses start up in just six months and suddenly they are a multibillion-dollar business. I don’t think they were worrying about bureaucracy. Maybe it’s a word of the past.”MK